The Patagonian Guest / Sidetracked


A story from inside the Fireflies Patagonia 1,000km gravel-bike raid.
Words and Photography by Matt Maynard

Dressed in blue jeans and a flat-brimmed baseball cap, the septuagenarian pilot takes us out across the bay. I’m so close in the cockpit that if I move my knee it presses against the joystick.

Puerto Montt is soon far behind, and we whistle over salmon farms, the atolls of Chiloé, and an islet where dolphins breach in the surrounding surf. ‘Sure, I can open the window,’ the pilot says. I stick the camera out, and fire off a few shots before all creative impulse is overcome by terror that my camera will be ripped into the propellers. There’s something reassuring about a bush pilot who made it to old age. He flew for Doug Tompkins, he admits when pressed, referring to him with the respectful yet distant Spanish ‘usted’ – took him up in the ‘90s when the conservationist was still scouting for land. I pull the thundering window shut and keep my knees to myself. Night comes down quickly once we land….

Click here to continue reading the story and see my photos, as published by Sidetracked magazine.